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The Real American Horror Story: My 12 Hours without a Cell Phone

Like most millennials, I’m not only hopelessly attached to my cell phone, but also blissfully unaware of my addiction.  At least, I was until a few weeks ago when, for a long twelve hours, I lived the real American Horror Story: my cell phone stopped working.

9:30 AM

Around 9:30 AM, I woke up in a panic that I had slept through my alarm, which, of course, I had.  I immediately jumped out of my bed to find my phone entirely dead, despite it having been plugged into my wall charger all night.  In the next 15 minutes, I went through all five stages of grief in rapid succession. 

First, I remained in complete denial, as I repeatedly tried to turn on the obviously dead device.  Next, I began to bargain with the technology gods.  I mean, maybe my outlet just wasn’t working.  After frantically plugging my cell phone charger into every outlet in my apartment, I tried using my roommate’s charger and, alas, no luck.  Then came anger.  Didn’t the technology gods know how much I have to get done today? How could I possibly be a functioning human being without my cell phone?  Inconceivable.  After gracing my roommate with a ten-minute rant, the depression set in.  Utterly resigned, I sent a series of Facebook messages to everyone I regularly interact with, alerting them of my dismal predicament. 

Having accepted that I no longer had a functioning cell phone, I strapped on my roommate’s analog watch that I had no idea how to read and set off to seize the day or whatever.


11:10 AM

As I embarked on my daily walk to Joe and then class, I noticed small details that had never captured my attention in the past.  For example, how long had there been scaffolding above Joe?  (For about a month, apparently. Oops.)


11:40 PM

Unable to obsessively check my cell phone every ten minutes, my three hours of seminar-style classes passed exceedingly slowly.  Also, who knew analog clocks just randomly slow down?  As my borrowed watch began to fail me, I unknowingly showed up late to two classes.  But on the plus side…has that cute guy in the blue sweater always been in my 11:40 lecture??


2:30 PM

True story: the pizza line in the Diana Center feels about ten thousand times longer when you can’t scroll through Instagram while you wait.  After a painstakingly awkward fifteen minutes, I finally sat down with my lunch and turned on my laptop to find 36 emails waiting in my inbox.  After lamenting to my best friend via Facebook messenger, she very wisely advised me to suck it up and go to the Apple Store.  Driven by my crippling fear of all things technology-related, I immediately shot down that idea, insisting that I could totally make it to Spring Break without a cell phone if need be.  If Hillary Clinton could make it through four years of college without a cell phone, I could definitely survive three short weeks…right?


4:00 PM

Pro: I didn’t trip once on my usual icy walk to Schermerhorn, possibly because I wasn’t updating my digital to-do list the entire walk to class.

Con: I showed up late to class again.  Damn you, analog clocks.

Also, weirdly enough, my notes for my 4:10 class were a solid two pages longer than usual. It might have been because I wasn’t on my phone for half of class.  Possibly.

5:30 PM:

Pro:  Since I clearly can’t exercise without access to Spotify or Pandora, I guess that means I can’t go to Dodge. Oh well.

Con: After walking away from Dodge, I instinctively reached into my pocket to order Seamless when the unthinkable dawned on me: no cell phone also means no takeout.  This is the stuff that horror films are made of, people.

After schlepping to Westside in the blistering cold, I found a seat in Butler and sent a Facebook message to a few friends offering $20 to the first person willing to accompany me to the Apple Store. Weirdly enough, no takers.

6:00 PM

AKA: That time I got more work done in four hours than I have all year.

10:00 PM

Before heading home, I messaged my roommate and asked if she could plug in my phone just one more time.  It couldn’t hurt, right?  And, if it remained out of commission, then I would bite the bullet and go to the Apple Store.  Maybe.  Possibly.  Eventually.

10:15 PM

I returned home to find my cell phone sitting on my desk, brilliantly glowing.  According to my roommate, she plugged it in and it immediately turned on.  I’m still not sure what caused it to revive, but I’ve never identified more with Carlton from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air more than I did in that moment.  #blessed

So, I guess I learned my lesson, universe.  I need to stop and smell the roses more.  Or look at the scaffolding.  Same thing.  

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Najet Fazai

Columbia Barnard

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